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The Face of Evil

The Economics of Democracy have Stopped Working

Everybody reading this blog may have noticed that I was ecstatic about Trump’s election. I was really happy. I went out that night and spent days giggling with a MAGA hat on watching the progressives melt down.

That was of course a tribal feeling. I used to look down on people who behaved like that when their soccer team won. “It’s not your team, dumbass, it’s just a bunch of overpaid foreigner jocks”. But the same way that most middle class men in the West put their identity in sports, I’ve always put mine in politics, and having Trump, the closest thing in decades to be close to my thinking, win the election to the highest office in the world, was a huge, huge piece of validation. Progressives say that all politics are identity politics. And it’s true. Human is a social animal, said Aristotle. And the core of human social behavior is forming identity groups (i.e. tribes) and fight each other. And a guy who appeared to be of my own tribe had won. So of course I was happy.

I was also kinda confused. The core part of neoreaction’s theory is that the contemporary political game is rigged so that our tribe just can’t win. The game is set up so that the “Cathedral”, the power base centered on the US bureaucracy and satellites and it’s PR apparatus in the media and universities just control everything. And yet Trump won, with a platform set up by Steve Bannon who is by any account a true and faithful member of our tribe. How could this happen? I wrote shortly after the election that we needed to explain this. We needed a Theory of Trump. And yet for some reason I couldn’t get myself to write one. The whole thing just felt odd. So I waited, to see if I found any clues to explain’s Trump’s ascent to power. To explain the Cathedral’s weakness.

Well it seems I did well in waiting, as the Cathedral isn’t weak at all. The news from the last few weeks is that the whole Trump platform is collapsing. The federal bureaucrat hiring freeze isn’t happening. The wall isn’t being built. The judiciary appropriation of legislative power in the US is untouched. Steve Bannon was publicly demoted. Goldman Sachs and assorted globalist bankstas run the show. And Trump just bombed Syria on the flimsiest of pretexts. Now, I don’t want to commit myself too much on this. The bombing of Syria wasn’t that big, and Trump isn’t sending troops. The wall may get built after all. The immigration ban may happen after all. But the signs don’t look good.

So it looks like Moldbug wasn’t wrong after all. There is a Cathedral deep-state running things completely impervious to the power of the presidency. It seems I wasn’t wrong after all either. Leftism is a memeplex evolved precisely in order to achieve and hold power, its content contingent to whatever works to achieve power. As such, we are not supposed to win. Not that easily, at any rate. Being right, having a correct understanding about how the world works is emphatically not the way to achieve power. There is a collection of games that must be played in order to win. Trump was very good at playign the electoral game; but that’s is just the outmost layer of the power onion. The inner parts are what actually gets you power, and nationalism, let alone HBD, patriarchy and neoreaction is just not very good at that game.

So all that said, I say it’s time we stop caring about Trump and we keep on developing theory.

At its core, the Game of Power is about this:

You might remember I wrote about this. It’s a very good video, based on a very good book. I also like the jargon. The ruler and the keys. Brief and clear. It has some problems, of course. The focus on “treasure”, while quite accurate in practice and a good metaphor, is of course incomplete. A ruler doesn’t necessarily have to grant cash. What humans seek is not money per-se, it’s status. Again, money is more often than not a good enough proxy; but in civilized societies a ruler can sustain its power by granting status, not necessarily money, as Robert Locke so eloquently argued in his apology of the Japanese economy.

But the biggest problem of this video and Bueno de Mesquita’s analysis is how it analyses democracy. Like it’s some end-of-history endgame where everybody is happy because the government gives away public good in order to buy votes from the people. Oh man, that’s just so fucking wrong it’s not even funny.

So the basic argument there is that dictatorships are run on the tight loyalty of a few important supporters (keys). Those keys come from a pool of potential keys, the “selectorate”. They keys will cost more or less money to keep loyal depending on the ratio of keys to potential keys. If the potential keys are few, the keys are scarce, hence expensive. If the potential keys are many, the keys are expendable, and so they will cost less. So what a Ruler wants is to have few keys, but many potential keys. That’s basic economics. A key works better when he has few ministers, but drawn from a vast aristocracy, instead of just a few nobles. Or better even, draw your ministers from the civil bureaucracy, who are dime a dozen. This is why historically aristocratic systems just don’t last very long. The king doesn’t like them. Their loyalty is too expensive.

That’s easy so far: so what about a democracy? How does that work? Who are the keys, and who are the potential keys? The video starts talking democracy at 6:00. And the beginning is pretty good. In an electoral system, the keys are the people who get you elected; i.e. who give you power. In practical terms the keys are interest group leaders, the people who mobilize vote blocks on your way. In order to please these blocks, a ruler gives them treasure.

Well, not quite treasure. We’re not talking kings anymore. The rulers for rulers aren’t just for sovereigns; they apply to any power dynamics, no matter at any level. Politicians in a democracy aren’t at the pyramid of the power hierarchy as a king or dictator would be. They’re at a lower level; so the treasure isn’t quite for them to take. Politicians in a democracy are quite easily replaceable themselves, so they gotta play by the rules, if only up to a plausibly deniable point. There’s a Schelling point, slightly different in different countries, where a politician can deliver treasure to his keys without getting themselves replaced. We generally call that “corruption”, and involves pork, tax loopholes, and that kind of stuff.

The video gets that alright, then notes that democracies tend to have lower tax rates. Which sounds counterintuitive if you’re some form of libertarian obsessed with Scandinavia and public expenditure to GDP rates: but it is true. Tax rates in China are quite outrageous. Tax collection efficiency in dictatorships may be quite bad; but the size and autonomy of the private sector is generally very small. The state really dominates the economy more than in a democracy. Not overwhelmingly so, but it really does. So the point is correct. Politicians want to get elected and lower taxes are always a good incentive, even if interest group dynamics make it easier said than done.

Then at 12:00 the video talks about how democracies compensate for lower tax rates by investing more in public infrastructure to make people more productive! You gotta be kidding me. We’ve talked about how power works. We’ve talked about how democracies nurture interest groups because they are easier to manage and buy off. We’ve talked about tax loopholes and pork. All absolutely correct. And now you’re telling me that democracies want people to be more productive so that they produce more wealth? What the hell? You think dictatorships don’t? Ever been to China? Know of Tsarist Russia? Everybody wants more wealth.

Sure, higher productivity often entails giving people access to stuff that may make it easier to revolt, and to some extent some countries do not encourage productivity that much, especially if they can afford to, having natural resources or something. Stability is a very good thing if you happen to be at the top. You don’t wanna change stuff. You wanna stay on top. But if you can be sure that revolt is not an issue, even the nastiest dictatorship tries to get his subjects to be more productive.

The reason that modern democracies invest a lot in public infrastructure, in hospitals and universities, is not because they want their people to be more productive. It’s because the power dynamics of politician make outright spending of treasure to be forbidden, and thus ever more complicated forms of pork must be found. And the Schelling point for spending public money without being accused of corruption in the USG dominated world order is healthcare, education and public infrastructure. More or less in that order. Those are not about productivity. Spending in public goods in the West hasn’t increased productivity since at least 1970. There’s a good argument to suspect that investment in education has decreased productivity to a catastrophic degree. But the money keeps being spent because it is a good way to pay treasure to key supporters.

There was a pretty obvious example of this last year in Japan. Now I’d like to come up with some example closer to my reader’s concern, say something in America, but East Asian political culture is so honest and straightforward that it’s much easier to come up with corruption cases which map well with this kind of straightforward theory.

So, the Ministry of Education in Japan in 2013 came up with this initiative called “Super Global Universities”. Yes, Super. Not kidding. The idea was to have universities across the country come up with a plan to make them Super Global, say by promising to give more classes in English or getting to invite foreign students from India or whatever, and in exchange the Ministry would give them extra cash. And so they did, some were selected, some weren’t.

Fast forward to 2016, and the Ministry of Finance is desperate to make spending cuts. There’s just no fucking money. They ask around and nobody wants to make cuts. Then they figure out that they hate the most the Ministry of Education. Perhaps some personal vendetta of high-fly bureaucrats there. Whatever the reason, the next day the press is all talking about how the Ministry of Education sent retired bureaucrats to some universities to work as administrators or professors on high salaries. And who would’ve thought, the universities who accepted those retired bureaucrats were selected as Super Global, and got a shitload of extra taxpayer cash thanks to it. I’ll put the guy’s face because he looks so much like a corrupt asshole bureaucrat I think it’s funny.

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That is the most classical form of corruption in Japan, the ama-kudari, the sending of retired bureaucrats to cozy sinecures paid on the public purse. That’s just the Schelling point that Japan has come up in order to keep the bureaucrats from being at each other’s throats. You promote one guy, the loser gets a cozy sinecure on double salary, everybody is happy. Except the public purse. But nobody cares about the public purse. It’s public.

The Rules for Rulers guy would want you believe that Japan is investing in Super Global Universities because it wants the Japanese to be more productive. Give me a fucking break. You could’ve said that in the 1950s, when highways and railways and airports were getting built all across the world. But still, it wasn’t even true that the point was higher productivity. Higher productivity was just a convenient Schelling point to get the bureaucrats to not fight each other and get behind the project, and conveniently skim some money for themselves and their cronies (keys). But note that once the higher productivity excuse ceased being true, once all modern countries were bursting full of highways and bridges to nowhere and marginal universities and useless hospitals full of 90 year old vegetables; they didn’t stop building. They kept going. Building more and more without thinking much about it. They just had to pay some more to get the media and academia to justify the more and more obviously useless expense. No Child Left Behind! Like there was anyone being left behind to begin with.

Now a disingenuous liberal, say Scott Alexander, may argue that even if the causal arrow is confused, the fact is that the scattered power system of a democracy still results in more investing in public goods, even if they do it for spurious reasons. And they’d have a point. China started investing in getting their country more wealthy once Mao died and the power of individual Chinese bureaucrats become more unstable, so they had to spend their pork on ostensibly public minded projects. But that’s not a point about democracy per se, it’s a point about unstable bureaucratic systems. And the industrialised nations as a whole are way, way beyond the point of diminishing returns of public good spending. I’d really rather have politicians outright buy votes rather than send more money to universities to poison the minds of the young.

The cycle of politics may turn out to be just as the Greeks saw it: a cycle of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, underpinned by the economics of the different systems, spending too little, then too much. Now we are spending way, way too much. Which means that we need a change. A change to less democracy. Whose turn is it now?

Not Trump’s at any rate. Sigh.

Western and Eastern Political Thought

A while ago Steve Sailer wrote that he saw a market for a book on Confucianism, and someone nice mentioned me on the comments out there.

Now I could write plenty about Confucianism, but I think any exposition on the history of Western political thought by me wouldn’t be very deep. I know enough, I think, but not enough to fill a book and sound like an expert.

Which sounds like a good chance for a collaboration. Any expert in Plato and Aristotle and Aquinas and Rousseau and Hobbes and all those guys? Maybe even the contemporary ones I don’t know much about. We could discuss for some time and then cook up a book together, then split the earnings, of course.

If anyone’s interested leave a comment or send me an email.

How Menopausal Feminism leads to Islam

I’m reading this book by a Japanese historian on how Neoconfucianism in the East unwittingly prepared the ground for the adoption in East Asia of Western progressivism as its logical conclusion. Really cool stuff. I’ll have a review shortly.

But before that, let me anticipate you this kind of evolutionary argument with something more relevant to our day.

I’ve been writing a lot about how Islam has a big chance of taking over the West. Not because Muslims are strong or anything. They’re a bunch of lazy low IQ pansies for the most part. But they have their shit together, and for various reasons they are immune (on average, of course) to adopting progressive ideology. One reason which I’ve written about a lot is that Muslim culture gives very high status to men. It’s a patriarchy. And Muslim men very much enjoy that. So when they move to the West, where feminism gives pretty low status to men as men, well Muslim men see very clearly that assimilating to Western culture will lower their status.

And they’d very much not lower their status. So Muslim men cling steadfastly to their traditional culture, as dumb and dysfunctional as it is, with its clannishness and laziness and inshallah fucked up work ethic. None of that matters compared to the dire threat of losing status. You’ll notice that the odd Muslim man which lands a high-status job, say Fareed Zakaria or Mohamed Hadid are quite happy with abandoning Islam for progressive. Feminism is pretty good for the high-status rich guy. But for your average guy, even a high middle class professional, feminism is a way worse deal than Islam. You’ll note plenty of self-bombing jihadists have been doctors and engineers.

Anyway, this is one factor. The male side to the equation, which accounts for why Islam is so healthy, unlike Christianity. But there’s this other side of the equation. The side which accounts for why the West is so weak. The female side. Take a look at this white lady.

This British woman, apparently some journalist or QUANGO employee or whatever, went on a cycling trip from Britain to Iran. Because she loves the Middle East or something. Now, if you know your geography you may have thought that she just cycled through Turkey and that’s it. Which would be dangerous enough. It wasn’t that long ago that a Japanese college student was raped and murdered in Cappadocia. But no, this chick is the real deal. Look at her route.

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She went all the way down to Sudan. She’s the real deal. She really likes them arabs. You may have noticed that on her Twitter picture she’s wearing a veil of some sort. Now why would she do that? Why would she like Middle Eastern culture so much? This clip gives you a hint. (HT Sailer’s)

That’s Omar Sharif. If anyone knew Arab women, it must be him. And he makes a really good point. Egypt is indeed becoming more piously Islamic than it used to be. The whole Muslim world is. This is Kabul in the 1970s.

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And of course in Egypt, things like these were going on. Nobody wore the veil well into the 1980s. Then they did. What happened? As Omar Sharif puts it, back in the 1950s and forward, you had this big baby boom, and the modernization of the whole Muslim world. Egypt had this huge showbiz industry, and the showbiz industry was run on more or less Western templates. Women in short skirts and all that. Young actresses, being young women, surely liked to show off.

But then this very same actresses got older. They weren’t so pretty anymore. And so they made virtue out of necessity and started to cover up those wrinkles and saggy skin and unshapely legs. But they were still in showbiz; they started the industry, they still had some authority. Given that celebrities were wearing the veil, that surely must have trickled down. Not just out of imitation, but because they had a point. All those Westernized girls were getting older. Westernization hadn’t brought the world of honey and spice that they’d thought. So they went Islamic. Once you go Islamic, the signaling went out of control. Next thing you know you ought to wear a Burka and let yourself get beaten by your husband. But, by then it was too late.

Western women like our British cyclist journalist aren’t immune to that temptation. Look at that woman again? WYB? I don’t think so. But man was she popular out there in Turkey and Egypt. Must have felt nice. Not sure how many men she slept with. She won’t say, she has a “boyfriend”. But you and I know she didn’t go all the way to Sudan just to see sand dunes. At any rate, during her trip she must have understood why the veil is a good idea. It hides you, but hides also everyone else. If you’re not very good looking, it’s a winning proposition in the zero-sum game of status competition.

Let’s be honest here, Western culture is exhausting for women. For men too, of course. But sexual freedom means women have to be in their top game; and then again you can’t help your genes. Sexual freedom expanded the field of conflict. And that brings a lot of losers. Feminism is if anything a compensatory symptom more than a cause. If you’re gonna shit on me because I’m ugly then I’ll use feminism to paint you as an evil fuck. Which is, of course, why the most prominent feminists tend to be ugly and fat.

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This is Germany’s population pyramid. Not a lot of young ladies. A huge bunch of older ladies. And it’s not getting any better. And so the interests of the older ladies have the upper hand. If there’s something older ladies don’t like it’s hot young ladies. Having them cover up is perhaps not such a bad idea. Probably overkill in Germany, given that the men have been completely neutralized. It would be interesting to test this theory in Italy or France, with more of a culture of adultery.

So anyway, more to worry about.

 

Peterson vs. Harris, again

So, you might remember a series of posts I did about Jordan Peterson, now famous psychology professor from Canada, about his philosophy of life. I wrote about him here and here and here.

You might also remember that Jordan Peterson was invited to the podcast of Sam Harris, of which I wrote about here and elaborated here. That podcast made me very, very conflicted. Because I think that Peterson is right, and Harris is wrong. But Peterson makes absolutely no sense in the podcasts, neither the first or second; while Harris is eloquent and logical and just sounds smarter. Or at the very least easier to understand. Peterson just sounds like a broken record of a snake’s oil salesman pitch. But make no mistake about it: Peterson is right. Harris is wrong. The problem is he isn’t capable of explaining it in a way that makes sense so that he can win the argument. Now they made a second podcast; and while it’s better, it’s still far from persuasive.

Well, allow me to win the argument for him. And I’ll do it for 1% of his Patreon salary. Nah, I’ll do it for free. Sam Harris deserves being proved wrong. That’s the least I can do for his good cadence of speech and the clarity of his thought.

So the two men are basically arguing about ethics: how should human people behave in society. Peterson goes on his by now familiar shtick about evolution and lobster serotonin and archetypes and Horus and Set. Harris answers that all that’s very good as biology or history perhaps; but not as ethics. We’re trying to come up with a system of morals, with rules of behavior; an accurate explanation of human nature, to the extent that Peterson’s explanation is accurate, doesn’t help there. And that’s because really existing humans have had, and some still have, pretty fucked up systems of morality. Read some ethnographies and you’ll find out plenty of stone age tribes with unbelievably stupid religions (i.e. beliefs about ghosts and stuff) and appalling behavior towards one another. My personal favorite are the lip plate wearers in East Africa. And of course, Harris is an outspoken enemy of Islam; and surely if you’re an Enlightened, blue-pill, 1960s guy, Muslim societies today are in general quite appalling.

Harris’ argument, which you can listen to from about 48:00 in the Youtube clip, is that appalling societies just have “failed science”. Their religion is a way of figuring things out: but they’re wrong. They’re mistaken, and so they do bad things, and their societies suck. If they only knew the truth, the Scientific Truth as discovered by Western Civilization, their societies would flourish and they’d all be as nice as Scott Alexander at a gaypride parade.

This argument is, of course, as old as sin. It’s moral intellectualism. That’s Socrates’ idea. People do bad things because they are ignorant. We should strive to know more so that we can be good. How do we know more? By asking questions and having a Socratic dialogue. Rince, repeat, then have Socrates executed for being annoying as hell.

It doesn’t occur to Harris that, even granting the Whig theory of history, that humankind progressed from ignorance to wisdom on a straight line, and things get better that way, that truth needs to be sold . There’s this thing in linguistics called diachrony and synchrony. Diachrony is watching the evolution of a language through time. Synchrony is watching to a language as it currently exists. You can take a synchronic look at the world today: and you’ll see that while Western Civilization has used Science™ to get to this pinnacle of wisdom and morality, there are plenty of other societies out there who aren’t buying it. They could buy it. Some even were buying it 50 years ago. But they’re not buying it now. And they’re right there, looking at us, kinda envying our technology and our wealth: but they’re still not buying it. These guys are out there and they don’t give a crap about we knowing the truth while they are suffering in falsehood.

And why aren’t they buying it? Peterson should have explained this to him. I guess it’s what he wanted to explain to him all along. The guy is a creative one and he very often finds it hard to put things into words. He should speak less and write more. He’d find it easier to make coherent arguments. Alas he gets paid infinite times more to speak than I get paid to write, so I don’t blame him there. But the point is that the Scientific Truth does not matter when you try to arrange a society. Not only it does not matter; pervasive knowledge of truth quite likely is deleterious for societal harmony. You basically can’t have a society, not a long-lasting one anyway, if the truth is widely known.

You may have noticed that after centuries of the scientific method; most people, i.e. 70% of the population don’t give a crap. Homeopathy is still around. People believe in all sort of crap; and they’re not even consistent about it. Why don’t people care about the truth? Because, as Peterson said, what people care about is what their biological drives have them care about; and those biological drives have evolved over millions of years. What they tell us to care about is what people across age and culture care about; and you can discover that by reading their myths and stories. What they care about is the survival of the tribe as a unit, i.e. the resiliency of their society. What makes the group function. And sex; how to get those picky annoying women to notice you individually. Here, I spared you 20 hours of Jordan Peterson’s Youtube clips. That is his argument.

Actually Sam Harris makes his own counterargument when he claims that the fact of human evolution has no place in a system of ethics, because if so anybody who understood Darwin would spend his whole life in a sperm bank so that he could have the maximum number of descendants. Yes, indeed. A society which placed high value on scientific knowledge would have people do exactly that. People want to win. Certainly guys want to win. But a society in which people understood in very clear terms that human females only mate with high-status men, and the status is a zero-sum game; well that wouldn’t be a very cooperative society, would it. And so humans have evolved to put a lid over all that stuff, which is kinda obvious when you think about it. But seeing the obvious is not what human nature is about. We wouldn’t be here if it were. Human nature is about coming up with bullshit, believing it and sticking to it, so that we can all get along.

Now there’s a lot of ways of getting along. Some people put 10 inch diameter plates inside our lower lips. Some people have women wear burkas while they shove their dicks in the anus of 12 year old boys. Some give high public status to women, while actually paying money to high-IQ code monkeys, who then can’t get laid, then dress like women so they can get the status, and allow this men to use the women’s restroom, which women hate but can’t complain because… I’m not really sure about that one.

Sam Harris wants a new system of ethics: well then he first must understand how systems of ethics came to exist. Peterson knows something about that. Then you can argue, indeed, that some ways of getting along are better than others. But the truth argument just doesn’t make sense. You can’t just drop the truth on a stone age tribe and expect they’ll come out next day as Californian 140 IQ Jews. Two reasons for that. The present American culture that Harris finds so dear wasn’t produced by the truth. It was produced by the Blue Pill. Which contains some truth, and a lot of made up unfalsifiable crap. That is, a lot of religion. And, as it happens, the society the blue pill produced is collapsing before our eyes. Peterson knows something about that too.

What we need is two things. One, ironically, is what Harris says he wants, but doesn’t actually want. The truth. The red pill. The other is some other stuff, not quite true, to put inside the red pill and make it sweeter. Else people won’t take it. People like sweet pills. That’s how we evolved.

By the way it’s the content of this second pill that Peterson wants to call “truth”. That which works. And yeah, ok, you can put that on the package. That’s probably good salesmanship. But first we have to make it. And you sure as hell shouldn’t be telling people at this stage that what we call truth isn’t really the truth.

The Geopolitics of Empire

Cool title, huh? It always feels good to type this kind of stuff. “Empire”. Pronounced with a 1900s British accent. Feels good man. Insert happy frog pic.

Anyway. The most interesting, shall I say “official” theory of historical geopolitics of the reaction must surely be Peter Turchin’s theory of meta-ethnic frontier armies pumping up their asabiya and conquering the civilizational center.

The theory basically says that to run a civilization you need a strong army. To run a strong army you need cohesion, discipline, i.e. asabiya. To produce this cohesion and discipline you need your soldiers to feel its need. Discipline isn’t nice. You’d rather slack off and drink beer and be merry. The kind of discipline an army runs off is produced by massive amounts of violence and unreasonable demands. You can only get people to do so if they feel is absolutely necessary. And they will only feel it’s necessary if they get to the realization that either they behave like good soldiers, or they’re dead, and they will lose everything they hold dear.

The way you get your soldiers to feel that is to stack them against a different civilization. People so alien to you that they you have nothing in common. If they win, everything you are accustomed to, all your life, all those little habits of behavior that form your identity: all that will be destroyed. And you don’t like that. It’s taken a while for you to adapt to that culture. Starting at birth. Your brain unconsciously produced a very fine set of motor sequences that make you able to gain some status inside that culture. If that culture were to change, because you got invaded by a different one, you’re screwed.

I mean, most likely you’d be directly screwed, in that your wife and daughters will be raped and you and your sons will be put into slavery; but even if the invaders were nice, they are just alien sons of bitches. So you gotta be sure they don’t conquer you. So you gotta be strong. So you join the army and you become a good soldier.

Once you are part of this strong army, you realize that all your fellow countrymen down below in the center are a bunch of pussies; you could easily conquer their asses in no time. Not that you need to, most of the time, but every now and then the center just collapses out of sheer dysfunction and runaway rent-seeking. So when the center collapses, the strong armies of the meta-ethnic frontier come down and restore order. That’s the Ibn-Khaldun civilizational cycle.

It’s pretty easy to understand, and it makes a lot of sense. Check your history and it fits quite mightily well I must say. And it also fits stuff that didn’t end up happening but people used to think it would. See this quote that a commenter at Nick Land’s left some days ago:

“The oppression of Hungary has ratified the oppression of all our continent. Since she has fallen, Italy has been completely crushed, the moderate freedom of Germany has been put down by Austria with the support of Russia; lastly, the usurpation of Louis Napoleon has been made possible. Without the restoration of Hungary Europe cannot be freed from Russian thraldom; under which nationalities are erased, no freedom is possible, all religions are subjected to like slavery. Gentlemen! the Emperor Napoleon spoke a prophetic word, when he said that in fifty years all Europe would be either republican or Cossack. Hungary once free, Europe is republican; Hungary permanently crushed, all Europe is Cossack.

The political fragmentation of Europe is an obvious historical anomaly. The history of mankind is the history of great empires. China, surely. The Persian Empire, and it’s Arab successors. The Roman Empire was the only one which didn’t rise again. Of course there’s a thousand theories about it; mainly Britain being a pain in the ass. But if you look at the map, it is pretty reasonable to conclude that Europe would end up a part of the Russian Empire. Russia is of course a perfect example of a meta-ethnic frontier, with White Christian Farmer Russians fighting for centuries against Asian Muslim Nomads. Now I know someone who is just going to come and write that the Russian army was a piece of shit, and that Russia only won because of sheer numbers and an Asiatic disregard for human life. But anyway. Those guys could fight. Hell, they conquered up to Alaska, the whole of Central Asia, and would’ve conquered Constantinople if not for British and French intervention.

So why didn’t Russia end up conquering the decadent Europeans? Well, in great part because the fragmented Europeans weren’t quite decadent. We could fight pretty well. France and Britain kicked ass everywhere they went. Which is weird, as neither of them are on a meta-ethnic frontier. Or are they?

Britain and France were huge colonial powers, which meant that their effective frontier was all over the place. By that argument Western Europe was the longest meta-ethnic frontier ever to occur in human history. They were out there fighting extremely alien peoples all over the planet.

But again that doesn’t quite apply to Napoleonic France. Or to the German Imperial army, by most accounts the strongest and most disciplined army in the world, probably since the Mongols. And Germany was no colonial power. By no stretch of the word you could argue that Germany is on a meta-ethnic frontier.

So what is it? The Napoleonic singularity should give you a hint. Nationalism is what fed the French army. And very much what fed the German army. Nationalism creates a meta-ethnic frontier from thin air, by changing the parameters of what makes an ethnicity. If you force people to become extremely anal about their group identity, the asabiya-production algorithms are much easier to activate. The Germans understood that was the basis of their strength; and so after losing WW1 they doubled down and came up with a Hitler.

Of course the asabiya-hacking ability of nationalism is a collective action problem. The point of asabiya is war. Of course it’s useful for a lot of other things, namely to run a wealthy industrial economy. But, at the end of the day, the business of groups of men is war, and excess asabiya will end up creating the circumstances so that it can show itself in the battlefield. And so nationalism ended up creating meta-ethnic frontiers all over the place. Which created the most massive and coordinated armies ever seen by men. Which was complete overkill. Not a good idea.

But now that Europe has forsaken nationalism, maybe the old patterns will reassert themselves, and Europe will fall to the closest meta-ethnic power. That is kinda the situation right now, with the USA as the conquering power. But they didn’t do so explicitly, and they are likely to leave in short term.

I never read him, but isn’t this argument basically what that Alexander Dugin guy is always talking about?

How to Figure out Gnon’s Will

A basic idea of this blog is that people don’t choose ideas according to the merits or the logical value of those ideas. People have different personalities, different status-seeking dispositions, so to speak. Some people desire a lot, some people are content with less, some people are willing to go further in order to attain it, others don’t. Given that basic foundation of personality, people then choose the ideas that think can better aid their status-seeking plans. Ideas spread or don’t spread according to how well they fit the wider aggregate status-seeking dispositions of the population. Which of course is affected by the current idea landscape of the culture.

This is why rabid leftists become rabid rightists, or viceversa, while seldom becoming apolitical. They’re just into politics, period, so they get behind whatever is fashionable or suits their background better. Understand this point and you’ll understand much better how the ideological landscape in the West is going to change in the next few decades. For instance, take a look at this:

A tale of two white British brothers who took VERY different paths: One supports right-wing EDL – while the other has converted to Islam

How can they be so different? Well it’s quite obvious. The guys just aren’t into mainstream crap. They’re edgy, as brothers they share those edgy genes, they just happen to stumble into different edges.

But of course ideas have consequences. Not ideas themselves; but different ideas help different groups get together, and social circles have big consequences. Social circles are everything, really.

Another point of this blog, of course, is to look at human behavior from a biological perspective. Richard Dawkins was able to write his masterpiece The Selfish Gene, because he was a zoologist. Everybody should be a zoologist. Everything makes much more sense when you look at stuff like that. Gnon is a zoologist. He really is. Now let’s look at the British brothers as zoologists. One looks happy, has two children, an obedient wife. The other has… his pub mates. Doesn’t look very content, does he?

Now I could start with that and start with the sociological consequences of that… but you already get it, don’t you? Again, I’m no apologist. I completely agree with this post by Jim. This is the solution we don’t want. But I’m not sure Gnon cares about what we want.

The Journalistic Mind

Yesterday I wrote that the leftist media (i.e. all of it) can’t shut up about the alt-right because they’re fascinated for finally having a worthy rival. They see the appeal.

Another possibility is that journalists basically spend all their lives in Twitter, and our Frog-Twitter friends are trolling them so hard that their Dunbar brains are just saturated with alt-right people. And so they react. And react, way beyond the real world importance of them. It’s like high-school kids talking all the time about their classmates. Of course they do, it’s where they spend their whole lives. But it’s all absolutely trivial in hindsight.

Here’s some evidence of how journalists work, and why they’re brains are basically on drugs with Twitter. This is a passage from David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, a 1972 book detailing how the Cathedral back then, the media and the bureaucracy, botched the Vietnam War because they couldn’t stop sucking each others’ dicks. Basically because everybody wanted to suck JKF’s dick.

David Halberstam was a fairly successful journalist, who took a long leave of several years in order to write a book. He writes how hard it was to quit his usual routine as a journalist for the lonely job of writing a book who would only be complete after years of work.

The hardest thing I had to do at the start was to take leave of my byline for the next four years. Ours is a profession built upon the immediacy of reward: We graduate from college, and our peers go off to law school and graduate school and medical school. They have barely started their first-year classes, and our names are bannered across the front pages of the nation’s leading newspapers. They get their medical or law degrees, and start out in their residencies or as the lowest hirelings in a law office, and we are old-timers, covering the statehouse, or on our way to Washington, by now, we believe, the possessors of a well-known brand name. The byline is a replacement for many other things, not the least of them money. If someone ever does a great psychological profile of journalism as a profession, what will be apparent will be the need for gratification—if not instant, then certainly relatively immediate. Reporters take sustenance from their bylines; they are a reflection of who you are, what you do, and why, to an uncommon degree, you exist. It was hard enough to give so much of it up when I went to Harper’s, where I would get only five or six bylines a year. But to go from the world of easy recognition, from the world of the Times and Harper’s, to a world where I might get only one byline in four years, was a great risk. A journalist always wonders: If my byline disappears, have I disappeared as well? My friends, knowing my compulsions, my innate impatience, wondered if I could do it. Would I be able to resist assignments and stay with my project?

 

Find the Symmetry

The liberal media won’t shut up about the Alt-Right. They’re even talking about Neoreaction. Apparently Trump has read Moldbug. Or at least Bannon has. The counterrevolution is happening. Or so you’d think if you believed the liberal press.

Funny thing is, the dark side of the Internet is a small, tiny little thing. Really. Neoreaction is, what, 1,000 people? Spread around the whole world. 75% in the US, maybe. And the alt-right, which has inherited much of good ol’ national-socialism, is what, 20,000 people? I love those guys, I really do. Frog Twitter is hilarious. /pol/ is very funny. But come on. Even Steve Sailer, who has been writing for decades, who is a middle-class, 50+ old, utterly middlebrow guy who writes in very accessible language, who writes about sports! Steve Sailer has 13,000 followers on Twitter. Ezra Klein has 1.6 million. Ezra Klein, that doofus-looking doofus. Even Matthew Yglesias, whose picture is in English phrasebooks to explain the phrase “his face looks like a joke”, has 270k followers. The alt-right is beyond small. Trump didn’t win because of the alt-right. He won because he got 60 million Fox News watchers to vote for him.

But, the liberal press won’t shut up about the alt-right. Why? Why aren’t they writing about the actual Trump voters? Because this is not about numbers. This is a war of ideas. And even if ideas can adapt to people, more often than not people adapt to ideas. Ideas are the stuff of humanity. The stuff of social coordination. Ideas is what we use to get together and to stuff. Schelling points, remember? Well, for the first time, the left is scared. They’re very scared. And why are they scared? The left are masters in ideas. They have come up with this steel-strong memeplex that even though it doesn’t make any logical sense whatsoever, even though it wrecks every culture and civilization it touches, even though it makes men and women miserable and keep them from having babies; these guys keep winning. The left is good at ideas. And the left won’t shut up about the alt-right.

Maybe they sense something? Maybe they’re scared that they know that fascism is a good product. Not that it makes much sense. Slightly more than what the left sells, but fascism isn’t about truth and logic. Fascism is about what it has to be about; about coordination. About power. What the left is also about, if only in a more cheating and roundabout way. Maybe the left is scared because they know what happens when good ideas get out of the bottle. First some guy like Bannon reads Moldbug. Then he becomes the Chief Strategist of the POTUS. Then the guy actually manages to have political power. They’re trying hard to stop him. It’s likely that they succeed. But say they don’t. Say Trump and Bannon manage to stop the meddling of the US judiciary in the legislative process; say he purges the shuts down the CIA and consolidates the 16 intelligence agencies into a single one that actually follows orders; say he gets Paul Ryan to go home and work as a stripper for fat cougars.

If that happens, then whatever Bannon thinks will, slowly, become high-status. And then people who want a piece of that status will start to believe in the same stuff. And once some critical mass has been achieved, everybody will start believing in it. And once the ideas go mainstream, then they become a religion, a self-catalytic process where people start signaling and out-signaling each other and manipulating others into signaling too. That provided the ideas are a good sell at the beginning. Provided the ideas can get that critical mass. That means they must sound like a good deal, in abstract. But of course fascism sounds good. That’s the whole point of fascism. It’s catnip for civilized men.

Journalists are peddlers of ideological catnip. They’re drug dealers. That’s why there’s so many. It’s a nice job. I mean, it’s not, it doesn’t pay crap, but some people are irresistibly driven to it. And those guys who were driven to the Current Year Leftism, just can’t stop writing about the alt-right. Part is tribal anger, of course. But again, the tribes are incommensurably different in size. There’s no contest really. There’s a million leftist writers for every alt-right Twitter account. And yet… they can’t stop being curious. They see those Frog-Twitter kids, they see the drive, the passion, the brotherly manners. The asabiya. They know that’s how ideas get started. And once they get started, they can get big very, very quickly. And once they do, the guys doing the street violence won’t be Berkeley communists. They’ll be Berkeley nazis. The same people, perhaps. Because people are just empty vessels, looking for a kick. They don’t really care who provides it, only that it’s good.

Why do people go to class

Not to learn, certainly.

David Friedman says:

I have long been puzzled by why lecturers were not replaced by books shortly after the invention of printing made books cheap. Video is just the latest incarnation of that puzzle.

Well if you’ve been puzzled for long, why don’t you think about it? Come on, Mr. Friedman. You’re a smart guy. If you don’t understand something, just think a bit harder. Or better still: think outside the box.

Some guys out there put theories about humans being wired to pay attention to lecturers, more than to books or videos. I don’t know. Certainly didn’t work like that for me. A boring lecture is a boring lecture whether on video or in person. I’m not the most patient guy so your mileage may vary but I surely didn’t pay much attention myself to my professors unless they were particularly good.

The answer to the question is obvious. I mean, come on. People don’t go to college to learn. They go because it’s the official way of attaining high status. That’s what education is for. The guy who just wants to learn already reads the book and doesn’t bother with the lecture. The fact that we still have lectures and pay lecturers, as some guy said over there, “pay thousands of professors to give exactly the same Calculus lecture”, is not to satisfy the market of kids who want to learn. That’s not the market that high education caters for.

Robin Hanson made what I consider the best claim: education is about making friends with high prestige people. “Impressive people”, as he put it. He would know, as he’s quite impressive himself, and he appears to understand that a lot of people try to be friends with him even though they aren’t at all interested in what he has to say. So for any average kid, a math professor is a high prestige guy. He’s smart. He’s impressive. Being in the same room with the guy means you have something of the social standing of that guy. You may not be impressive yourself, but you’re good enough to be in the same room as an impressive guy.

You’ll notice that’s the same logic for why people follow celebrities all over the world. What’s the freaking point in going batshit crazy over some singer, paying thousands and thousands of dollars? Why do people ask for autographs? Why do teenage girls go insane when some famous guy looked at them? Why the hell does every TV celebrity have millions of followers on Twitter? Because interaction is status. I have some connection with a high-status guy. Means I’m high status too. Sorta. It used to work like that in 100,000 BC. Not so much today in social media. But evolution is what it is. Gnon is lazy.